Author Topic: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?  (Read 15258 times)

windawake

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Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« on: April 18, 2012, 08:55:18 AM »
Hey all,

How do you keep up your Mustachian badassity if you want to travel before FI?  I have not traveled much since I finished college but have a couple of ideas to contribute:

-Buy plane tickets ahead of time to get great deals, last weekend I went to St. Louis and my ticket cost $160, when I checked prices a week before my trip they were up to $455

-Stay with a friend.  My only trips around the US in the past several years have included lodging with friends or family.  If it weren't for one of my good friends moving a lot I would have never been to Boston or St. Louis.

-WWOOF for longer trips.  Willing workers on organic farms allows you to stay at a farm for free lodging and food while contributing work to the farm every day.  It's a great way to learn about organic farming, meet people, and travel very cheaply.  I wanted to travel this summer so found an apprenticeship program which is pretty much the same deal, as you pay a very small stipend to cover lodging, free yoga classes, and all your food.

-Meticulously track flights.  I'm going to do my apprenticeship in Guatemala this summer and have been tracking airline prices for my flight for weeks, last night the exact dates I wanted temporarily dropped by $150 so I snagged a ticket.

What are your secrets?  I'm excited that my trip this summer (5 weeks) will not be more expensive than living at home normally, as long as I can find a subleaser.

kudy

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2012, 11:24:17 AM »
Credit card rewards are my secret, I snagged two free flights by using a southwest credit card for 6 months. I've since switched to another travel rewards card where I can use the points to pay for large travel expenses (tickets, hotels).  I've diverted as many of my regular expenses as possible through credit cards, and they give me lots of rewards for it.

I haven't ever tried it, but couchsurfing seems like an interesting idea and a good way to make friends and have a unique travel experience. I imagine it's probably more fun than being a tourist if your host has time to hang out a little bit, and give you a little advice about the place you're visiting.

I have been on a few cruises - I enjoy them for the temporary sloth and gluttony afforded to all passengers, and you can get good deals on tickets if you buy at the right times.  Of course, they are designed as a money-sucking trap once you're on-board, so it's best to know all of the inside tricks, and it's fun to make it a game - spend as little money on-board as possible.  Of course, if you're actually hoping to explore destinations and have in-depth cultural experiences, a cruise isn't a great option.

I haven't done any real out-of-country traveling, but backpacking, hostels, and other cheap options always seem to exist.  A friend of mine visited China for 3 weeks and spent very little money - he hired a local he knew over skype to be his guide, and got an awesome non-tourist view of China.

zoltani

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 04:40:30 PM »
My favorite type of travel is by bike, which fortunately is pretty cheap once you have the gear.  You pay a lot for food because you burn so many calories.  Camping is cheap, and many places have hike/bike sites that are cheaper than the regular sites.  In some small towns you can camp at the local park, church, police station, etc.  To most this type of travel is truly roughing it, but I thoroughly enjoy it.  You are able to experience a lot by going slowly through an area.

I traveled in central France for about 18days by bike and spent on average about 20 euros a day, which is living high on the hog when bike touring IMO.  At the time i was living there so i didn't have to pay for the plane ticket or to have my bike shipped.  This of course adds to the cost of the trip.

My wife and i went to maui for our honeymoon, but instead of getting a room at some resort and renting a car we rented a VW westfalia and slept in that.  It was a very memorable experience, and I would consider renting a westy again.   


Mrs MM

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012, 09:53:31 AM »
My wife and i went to maui for our honeymoon, but instead of getting a room at some resort and renting a car we rented a VW westfalia and slept in that.  It was a very memorable experience, and I would consider renting a westy again.

Great idea!  My impression was that renting a larger vehicle like that would be expensive... where did you rent it from and how much did it cost?

Camping and biking is how we travel -- our son is bike-averse (can you believe it!?) and still wants to be pulled in the trailer, so he's not really with the program yet, but he loves to camp (as I suspect most kids do). 

We also try to travel within driving distance.  It makes the trip much less stressful (no flights) and there are many great places we can visit within driving distance. 

I also love the idea of WWOOF and volunteerism.  When I traveled through Australia in 2000, there were many backpackers working in farms in exchange for a place to stay.

zoltani

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 03:33:20 PM »
http://www.alohacampers.com/index.jsp

Says $115 per day, but with the insurance I think we paid around $1400 for 10 days, about $140 a day.  If you have your own insurance you wouldn't have to pay extra for it.

When a friend was traveling to maui she asked for suggestions so I suggested the camper, and they also loved the experience. 

mm1970

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2012, 08:01:55 AM »
http://www.alohacampers.com/index.jsp

Says $115 per day, but with the insurance I think we paid around $1400 for 10 days, about $140 a day.  If you have your own insurance you wouldn't have to pay extra for it.

When a friend was traveling to maui she asked for suggestions so I suggested the camper, and they also loved the experience.
Okay, that looks really really cool.  We've been to Maui twice and did the condo route, which was also nice (small, privately owned), but this is 2/3 the price, and you can see more of the island.

zoltani

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2012, 01:15:55 PM »
yeah it was really fun.  Camping is hit or miss on maui, usually just a port-o-potty or something.  We were a little nervous about just pulling up on the side of the road to camp.  We showered on the beach at the outdoor public showers.

salmp01

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2012, 02:40:11 PM »
I have typically traveled to places where the currencies are weak compared to the US dollar.  In the early 2000s I made 3 trips to Brazil with the Real (Brazil’s currency) was very  weak.  Also went to Venezuela a few years back when I learned you could buy their currency on the black market.   A good part of central America is usually cheap so that’s where I’ve been lately (I just returned from Honduras).

Also, when I travel I’ll usually stay at hostels or will try and rent an apartment (as opposed to staying in a hotel).

Sparky

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2012, 10:47:41 AM »
Traveling is cheap as heck when you avoid hotels, cruises, resorts and basically anything you find on the internet. I've lived for as little as $300 bucks a month in some places without trying to be cheap.

Travel even western nations can very cheap as long as you camp or hostel everything. Don't eat out, always shop for food in supermarkets and avoid touristy traps. I've found travelling in the USA to be among the cheaper areas of the world (cost of eating is actually really low if you cook everything yourself, most foods are the same price as in developing nations)

Touring by bicycle is among the cheapest and best ways to travel. You'll find the cost of buying a decent touring bike and gear pays itself off after a relative short period of time.

Feel free to send me a message. I'm a Mustachian not retire early but in fact to travel.

onehappypanda

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2012, 02:59:02 PM »
Great tips!

I haven't traveled a ton, but I want to do more of it so this will be a helpful thread. I was just in Vancouver for a week for some conference stuff and some of the things I did to save money were:

The planes were hellaciously expensive to go straight to Vancouver from where I live in the Midwest, like $700-900. So looking for alternatives, I found that I could fly to Seattle for $350 and take a bus to Vancouver for $80 (round trip). So the whole thing was $430 (after taxes and fees and all that jazz).

We found a tiny cheap hotel that wasn't very well-known, even though it was in a really good location. A room with a queen bed split between two people ended up costing just under what a hostel would've, and we had our own room. No real amenities, but those aren't really things we needed anyway.

Being at a conference sucked up most of my time, but we did carve out some free time for sightseeing. We stuck mostly to free things- a few free art museums, the parks (Stanley Park was amazing), and just walking around cool neighborhoods and checking out the views. If we'd had more time, I would've loved to go hiking, which is also free. I honestly didn't miss doing the touristy things at all.

For food, we headed to a grocery store and picked up bread, nut butter, nuts, and fruit that we could keep in our hotel room and have for breakfast and snacks. Next time, I think I'd look for a hotel room with a fridge so we'd have more options, but this worked okay. We also could've packed food from home, but weren't sure how it'd work re: the border crossing. We ate lunch and dinner out but did our research and picked small local places that were pretty cheap but had good reviews (and healthy options). We did decide to splurge on our last brunch, just for fun. Food ended up being under $200 for the week and I probably could've done less if I'd really been Mustachian, but I felt like we struck a good balance of not blowing too much money while still being able to try out some good local food.

So I guess my general tips are:
Look for creative transportation options. Particularly if you're going to a more expensive area, see if there's somewhere cheaper  nearby that you could fly to and take public transit in. Compare your options.

Avoid the tourist trap sightseeing (and the shopping meccas) for the most part, and pick things that are free or nearly free. Yelp and local newspapers usually have oodles of free attractions and events listed.

Compare all your lodging options: camping, hostel, hotels. If you can double or triple up a hotel room it might be a good cheap option. Look for hotels that have good deals if you're in an off-season, or try for hotels that aren't very well known. Consider whether amenities at nicer hotels are really worth paying for.

Make food yourself if it's an option. If you want to go out, pick a cheaper local place instead of a more expensive chain. The food will probably be better anyway, and you'll be supporting the local economy.

It wasn't an option for my Vancouver trip but other tips I'd choose if possible:
Rent a cheap hotel with a kitchen, or split an apartment rental with friends. Having a kitchen to cook your own meals with could save oodles, and they aren't necessarily more expensive than a standard hotel depending on the area.

Pick a lesser-known locale. I've noticed that there are quite a few awesome places in the U.S. that haven't caught on as major tourist destinations, though they're just as nice as (if not nicer than) most of the major touristy places. These places tend to be cheaper, and as a bonus they also tend to be less crowded. You just have to hunt them out. I'm sure the same holds for international travel.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 03:08:59 PM by onehappypanda »

Bakari

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2012, 08:09:50 PM »
I rode my bike from San Francisco to Mexico City via the US/Mexican west coast with two other people (well - started out with 3 others, ended up solo), took about 2 months.  Mostly camping, but I don't know how much it cost, as I didn't pay for any of it :)

I found another way to travel some for free was joining the Coast Guard, but its a 6 year commitment, so, maybe won't work for some people.

Cheapest option for transportation is often rideshare, where you travel with someone who's going your way anyway, in exchange for gas money.  2nd cheapest to that (within the US) is Greyhound - esp. if you are traveling with a friend, if 2 adults book together the 2nd ticket is something like 50% off.

But really, what I do above all is just enjoy the place I am at, and remind myself that other places are really a lot like here, they just happen to be somewhere else.

Sparky

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2012, 08:01:48 PM »
This is going to sound like really strange advice, even coming from food loving travel junkie (I swear I travel and exercise solely as an excuse to eat more)....

If the location you are at is expensive* and cooking your own meals is difficult, eat McDonald's** or find big, non chain fast food food courts.

* Note I deem expensive is pretty vague and low number ex places that will cost me more that $40 bucks a day to survive/entertained/be happy.
** I hadn't had fast food or anything really Western for 3 months when I discovered this idea. May be bad for health.

windawake

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2012, 08:41:30 PM »
So many good responses, thanks all!

Bakari, I totally agree with your statement about enjoying the place you're at.  Since 2009 I've rarely traveled since I love the city I live in so much.  However, I grew up 30 minutes away from here and think I need to see more of the world by myself for personal growth reasons.

I'd love, love, love to get into bike traveling.  I hope this summer to do some bike camping nearby, or maybe bike up north and WWOOF on a farm or something.  Anyone who likes this idea should check out the novel: The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty.  This dude just hops on a bike and bikes cross country for the hell of it, it's awesome.

Bakari

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2012, 06:21:03 PM »
I read "Miles From Nowhere" just before my trip (which was originally supposed to be multi-continent, before being ended early due to divorce!)
It was also a great cycling around the world (true) story

catalana

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2012, 03:51:43 AM »
If you are mad keen on travelling, look for a job that entails travel!

My fiance is a research scientist and speaks at conferences around the world.  In the last couple of years he has been at opposite sides of the world from Toronto to Tasmania, taking in Salt Lake City, San Diego, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland too.  All of them he has seen for free, and usually the organisation which is paying has no problem booking the return flight a week later so he can take some holiday after the conference.

I also travel with work (although less so) and actually enjoy it as a way of seeing a place because it falls somewhere between being a tourist and being a local.  So when I went to Perth, I got involved with my colleagues lives by going along to an Australian football match with our office manager and to a birthday BBQ for one of the sales guys.


Parizade

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2012, 06:05:43 AM »
Rule number one is to make sure your traveling companions are either just as frugal as you are or at least supportive of your budget. Some people think "budget travel" is staying at 4 star hotels instead of 5 star so make sure everyone you  travel with understands how much (or little) you plan to spend.

Also, I belong to several "outdoorsy" clubs who plan trips around activities I enjoy. Clubs can book travel for groups at reduced rates, so I can travel more for less by going on group excursions with them.

I've heard that if you want to travel in Asia you should base yourself in Singapore. Apparently it's very clean, safe, and inexpensive to stay there and the flights from Singapore to other parts of Asia are cheaper than a bus would be in the USA.

rjack

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2012, 06:58:13 AM »
My wife and two sons (17 and 20 at the time) went to Brussels, Normandy, and Paris last spring. It was expensive, but one thing we did as much as possible was rent small apartments instead of staying in a hotel. All the apartments had stoves/ovens and refrigerators so we bought food at the local super market and cooked many of our meals. This saved alot of money since my sons eat huge amounts of food!

moneymohawk

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2012, 07:34:39 AM »
Quote
ended early due to divorce

Wow.  That sounds like quite a story.  Not sure if you'd mind telling it, but if you feel like sharing, was it yours or someone else's?

Bakari

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2012, 08:21:07 AM »
Quote
ended early due to divorce

Wow.  That sounds like quite a story.  Not sure if you'd mind telling it, but if you feel like sharing, was it yours or someone else's?

Too long of a story for here - I'll probably get around to writing it on my blog someday...
Short version:
I went with a couple and one other person.  The guy half of the couple is now married to that other person.
I was 18, and these people were my hosts, as well as former professors and supervisors. 
Also, none of us spoke Spanish.

It was definitely a very interesting experience, in a lot of ways.

birdie

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2012, 03:29:20 PM »
We are going to be bicycle touring with our 5 year-old son this summer using a Burley Piccolo attachment bike and a BoB Yak trailer  - both bought used on E-bay.  We started our kid on the attachment bike at 3.5 and he now regularly does 20 miles at a time (vs. 5 miles on his own bike).  We're hoping to do a longer cross country trip in about 5 years when my husband retires from active duty.  For anyone interested in long term family bike travel check out familyonbikes.org - they rode from Alaska to Argentina with twin 10 ten year-old boys (13 by the time they finished) and spent an average of $1500/month.  Very inspiring!

Before having a kid, my husband and I traveled a lot overseas.  We mostly took at least a month at a time and sought out inexpensive destinations like China, India, and Thailand.  The airfare to get to these places can be pricey but the costs on the ground are miniscule.  Meals might run a few dollars, and guest houses from $5-$20/night.  We once paid $20/night for a private beach cabin in Goa that was amazing - and it would have gone for $7/night except prices were jacked up for Christmas week.  Thailand was also super cheap.  We've also been to Europe several times and found Spain to be quite a bargain compared to many other places.  In Europe we would limit our meals out and choose bread, wine, and cold cuts from markets and grocery stores instead of restaurants.

For active, retired, and reserve military its worth checking into Space Available air travel.  We've flown to places like Hawaii and Europe for free using this perk, but you have to do your research, stay flexible, and have a back up plan.

Will

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2012, 11:25:48 AM »
I keep seeing this from Southwest and was wondering what people here think:

Apply for the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Plus Card, and we'll get you started with 50,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. That's over $800 in Wanna Get Away?® Fares that can be redeemed for 2 ROUNDTRIP FLIGHTS!

You'll also receive 3,000 bonus points every year on your Cardmember Anniversary, which can be redeemed for a $50 Wanna Get Away?® Fare. Enjoy these Exclusive Cardmember Benefits and more with a $69 annual fee. Start planning your trip to one of the 70+ destinations Southwest Airlines serves.


I generally fly SWA when I fly (which is maybe every couple of years to see my folks).  My niece is getting married in March, and it would be awesome to fly in for the wedding and not have the flight cost me anything except the $69 fee.  But then do I cancel the card the next time the fee hits or what?  If they'd just give me enough bonus points on the anniversary to cover the fee...

kudy

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2012, 12:43:11 PM »
Hey Will, I did a similar deal with the southwest card a few years back - the first year the fee was waived, maybe it's the same on this offer? Or maybe you could ask customer service to waive it for you?

I canceled the card after using it for all expenses for 10 months - including the free stuff for signing up, I ended up with 3 free flights for $0, and the time it took to re-route all my expenses through that card.  I've since switched to a "double miles" card where the points can also be used twards Amazon purchases.

totoro

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2012, 01:38:22 PM »
I have done the following to subsidize travel:

1.  Travel for work so it is paid for and collect the air miles to use for travel later.
2.  Rent out my home when I'm gone for longer to subsidize the costs.
3.  Done a home exchange - worked out great.
4.  Own a vacation rental where the cost is paid for through rental income and we get to stay without direct cost.


smedleyb

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2012, 02:15:15 PM »
I keep seeing this from Southwest and was wondering what people here think:

Apply for the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Plus Card, and we'll get you started with 50,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. That's over $800 in Wanna Get Away?® Fares that can be redeemed for 2 ROUNDTRIP FLIGHTS!

You'll also receive 3,000 bonus points every year on your Cardmember Anniversary, which can be redeemed for a $50 Wanna Get Away?® Fare. Enjoy these Exclusive Cardmember Benefits and more with a $69 annual fee. Start planning your trip to one of the 70+ destinations Southwest Airlines serves.


I generally fly SWA when I fly (which is maybe every couple of years to see my folks).  My niece is getting married in March, and it would be awesome to fly in for the wedding and not have the flight cost me anything except the $69 fee.  But then do I cancel the card the next time the fee hits or what?  If they'd just give me enough bonus points on the anniversary to cover the fee...

What do I think?  I think I've accumulated over 14 credit cards in the past 12 months for a combined 1.7 million miles worth roughly $40,000.00 in travel  (Starwood, Marriott, United, Hilton, Southwest, American).

Just cancelled my Southwest card I got last July (before I had to pay the fee again).   I think the heyday of massive travel bonuses for signing up for cards is behind us, but there are still many lucrative offers out there.

Oh, and my credit score took a hit -- from 800 to 770.  I can live with that.

Taking the entire family (all 4 of us) to Hawaii and Barbados in the fall and winter (we live in the Northeast) for less than $1500 (not including food).  Staying at top properties to boot (but flying coach -- oh the sacrifices!)


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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2012, 09:33:25 PM »
These are all great suggestions! Most of them I've never even considered. My travel experiences are a bit different as my work requires substantial travel. So far I have seen 25 different countries and 30 states for work . I've also done a ton of personal travelling, but pre-moustachian phase so I wasn't as frugal as I am now. Some of these will apply to folks who travel a lot, others will not. Apologies in advance, this is a topic that I am personally quite passionate about!

1. If you do travel for work, always maximize points opportunities regardless of the airline / hotel program. Sign-up for everything and then convert right away if you need to. Most will offer conversion programs later which although a rip-off, allow you to now miss out on any opportunity.

2. If you have hotel status, try and stay at those hotels when possible. They typically have breakfast, lounge, and other services included that allow you to eat for free, even when on points. I did this in Korea two weeks ago and for a $175 hotel we had a massive buffet, filled up our bags with food for the day, and hit the lounge for dinner / booze. Restaurant quality meals for free (not exactly free, but you get what I mean!)

3. Figure out what is really important to you and be prepared to spend money on it. I'm frugal, but not cheap and many of the places I've been in the world I'll never be again. You can definitely go 'too cheap' when you're travelling and there are some expenses that are just worth it. I hired a car / driver in the Philippines for $50 / day and he drove us around for 12 hours each day showing us the sights, different parts of Manila, etc. The cost was reasonable and I saw more of the city and outlying areas than I ever could on my own. To me travel is a life-enhancing experience when done properly and I'm prepared to drop some money on it.

4. Use websites like flyertalk, rewardscanada.ca, to track deals as they always have substantial offers and the inside scoop on things. If you are hardcore like me consider downloading KVSflyer as it allows you to find the cheapest routes, fares, and ability to maximize upgrades or points. The full program is about $120 / year but I've saved at least $2K - $3k per year using it, and also gotten tickets worth quite literally hundreds of thousands of dollars more than I paid for them. Using this tool I've taken virtually every vacation flight in business class either through an upgrade from the cheapest economy fare or through creative use of my points. As an example I went Toronto - Tokyo - Manila and back for $950 round-trip and flew in business class both ways last year.

5. Do your homework. Many places outside of Western Europe and the US have exceptionally high quality hotels for exceptionally cheap (also possible in Western Europe, just takes more planning). In South East Asia, South America, and India you can stay in non-chain hotels for $10 - $40 / day that have nice interior, clean facilities, air conditioning and are safe. These are hotels, not hostels. If you do research in advance you can find these places and stay for very cheap at very nice places.

6. This is probably obvious, but use bloody public transport. I just came back from Korea, saw all of the major sights (my only major expense was $120 each for me and the gf to see the DMZ, which could have been $40 if we were able to secure seats from the USO). We used the subway every day regardless of how tired we were. Not only was it cheap ($12 each for four days) but it was exceptionally fast (3km cab ride took 20 mins, 3km subway ride took 5). GoogleMaps can give you directions using public transportation perfectly now and most systems in the world are incredibly tourist friendly.

7. Look for free attractions wherever you go. Most governments operate on a simple theory of tourism, which effectively goes something like this 'if we have cool shit, people will show up to our country to see it. We can then charge them shit tons of money in hotels, meals, transportation because they are dumb and don't consider these expenses when travelling. Therefore lets make the attractions cheap and suck the idiots in'. I saw multiple attractions in Korea (and everywhere else in the world that I've been) for what was effectively free to cheap (e.g., no more than $2-$3, and in most cases free). In many cities simply wandering around several of the local areas will give you a great flavour for the city and offers lots of interesting things to see. In others the national attractions are exceptionally cheap.

8. Travel in the off-season. I'm thinking about writing a book or blog called 'travel in the off-season'. I've been to Paris in the winter, Thailand in Monsoon season, Boston in the Winter etc. This isn't for everyone, but I've had fantastic deals with exceptional experiences by travelling in the off-season to almost everywhere I've gone. The pace is slower, the sights aren't as crowded, and the locals are friendlier in the off-season. These places tend to clear out in the off-season and we had a 5 star hotel in Thailand for under $90 / night and no one on the beach when we were there. The off-season comes with some potential weather difficulties, but they are minor compared to the savings (e.g., in Thailand it rained on average about one hour per day but we were able to take a break, have a snack and then head out again). If you go over Christmas, March Break, or other major world holidays to places you can always expect to pay a premium.

9. Stop packing so much shit. I always laugh at the airport when I see some poor family with 2 chubby kids, dressed in large hawaiin shirts and flip flops, mowing down on some unknown item from McDonalds, hauling 2 massive suit cases each out of the airport along with 2-3 sets of some form of sport equipment after returning from a one-week vacation. First, my question is always 'really, I'm supposed to believe that you are in any way athletic'? Second, how much shit do you need for a fucking week? It's fucking one week! I could get buy on a pair of pants, shorts, underwear and a t-shirt. WTF do you have in there, your entire home? Getting rid of the suit case lowers the cost of travel, makes it more fun because you aren't constantly thinking about hauling your shit around, and opens you up to a world of other things you can do. It also really eliminates the ability to buy anything while you travel which brings me to point #10.

10. Don't buy shit. Everyone has a tendency to say "I want to remember this trip with a souveneir". Guess what happens to that shit? It goes in your house somewhere and you eventually realize that you can't remember anything about it. Then you realize your house is full of useless shit that you can't rememer anything about. Then you think, maybe there's something wrong with me? Nothing wrong with you, just too much shit. Take memories, not things home. If you must buy something, wait until you're in an area where you can buy something local and bring it back that even if it is over priced is at least going to feed someones family. The purchase should be meaningful, not something you bought for $10 at a tourist trap.

11. Eat local, particularly in foreign countries. If you can't read the menu, that's the best place to eat. Avoid places with English waiters and translated menus, these are what we affectionately call 'tourist traps'. You can learn enough from a phrase book in 10 minutes to be able to say 'what is good here?' or 'I want beef', plus you have an adventure and the restaurants usually love it when you show up. They treat you like a king and you make some new friends. The locals always have cheap food, that is authentic and tastes fantastic. Don't worry about getting sick, just don't order anything raw (you can easily learn how to say cooked only) and don't drink the water (bring your own). I've done this in almost every country I've been too and paid 10% or less of the price in established places and had most of the best meals I've ever had there. Curry in Thailand for less than $1 including rice is a good example.

12. Potentially the most important one, but decide what travel is about for you. For many people travel has become, like many things associated with spending a lot of money to go some place and recreate the exact same environment that they have at home (e.g., a very high-end hotel where everyone speaks perfect English), along with gratuitous consumption (e.g., a cruise ship) or extreme luxury (e.g., an all inclusive resort). It has become synonymous with entitlement and the phrase I hear from most colleagues is 'I work so hard, I deserve a vacation I just want it to be totally easy and I'm prepared to pay for it. There is a lot wrong with this attitude, including the fact that if you wanted it to be just like being at home, why didn't you just take a week off and stay the fuck home? Anyway, that aside if you have a rough idea of what you want to get out of travel then it is easier to prioritize how you spend money. On a personal note, I really enjoy learning about the history of a country and eating / trying new foods. I spend most of my travel dollars doing things that are historically relevant and trying as many new foods as I can.

Anyway, some of these are practical and a few are philosophical. Apologies for the rant.

totoro

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2012, 09:12:31 AM »
Those are good travel tips ShanghaiStashing - some of the online points resources I have never heard of.

I agree with packing less.  I spent two weeks for a business trip last month and all I brought was my laptop case and a small carry on with wheels.  Honestly, baggage is, well, baggage and it is a pain to have to wait for it and carry it.  Get yourself a travel size set of toiletries and you'll be surprised how little you will need for work or pleasure travel in the way of clothes.  For work I brought six tops, two pairs of pants, a pair of shoes and two cardigans for a two-week trip.  I washed clothes once.

I also agree with not buying stuff.  Do we really need more stuff?  I brought some wild strawberry plants back from the east coast to my home on the west coast and planted them in my garden.  Now that is, IMO, a great souvenir.  It will remind me of the trip everytime we eat them and hopefully they multiply.  Next time I go I will bring back some lobster for the family from a fisherman friend.  My rule is that if I can't eat it we don't need it.  Having been through a big decluttering has changed my perspective quite a bit.

My kids just came back from a month long trip to Russia.  They bought a couple of video games and were given a couple of t-shirts by family.  They still had the money I gave them for spending.  The best part of the trip was the photos they took imo.


mushroom

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2012, 07:12:35 PM »
I'm 9 months in on a year-long trip abroad keeping on a fairly low budget. One of the big moneysavers people often forget to look at is renting apartments (even when you're just staying for a couple nights) - my husband and I have found places to rent for 30 euros a night for the two of us in Italy when a hostel dorm bed in the same place costs 20 euros each. Having your own fridge and kitchen also makes it a lot easier to keep food costs down as well. Plus apartments tend to have great deals the longer you stay, and staying longer in one place tends to cut down on other costs as well (fewer transportation costs, getting to know a city better and finding out where the great cheap eats are, less time and stress in researching new destinations and sitting on a bus and more time to relax and enjoy where you are).

Traveling in a cheap country is pretty easy without much advance planning, but I find that it's the more expensive countries that take some careful planning to make sure you keep to a reasonable budget (booking train tickets and flights ahead of time, finding good deals on accommodation, etc.).

Mariana

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2012, 01:47:27 PM »
There have been so many great responses to this post!  My recommendation is to defnitely plan ahead.  My boyfriend and I travelled by land from western France to Russia last year.  He is a big planner so we ended up paying only 150 euros each for the transporation.  We couch-surfed in some of the cities, which, I think, is one of the best ways to travel.  You meet such great people and really get to experience more of the city than you probably would as a tourist flying solo. 

tannybrown

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2012, 02:02:48 PM »
I keep seeing this from Southwest and was wondering what people here think:

Apply for the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Plus Card, and we'll get you started with 50,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. That's over $800 in Wanna Get Away?® Fares that can be redeemed for 2 ROUNDTRIP FLIGHTS!

You'll also receive 3,000 bonus points every year on your Cardmember Anniversary, which can be redeemed for a $50 Wanna Get Away?® Fare. Enjoy these Exclusive Cardmember Benefits and more with a $69 annual fee. Start planning your trip to one of the 70+ destinations Southwest Airlines serves.


I generally fly SWA when I fly (which is maybe every couple of years to see my folks).  My niece is getting married in March, and it would be awesome to fly in for the wedding and not have the flight cost me anything except the $69 fee.  But then do I cancel the card the next time the fee hits or what?  If they'd just give me enough bonus points on the anniversary to cover the fee...

My wife signed up for the Chase SW card and got 3 flights out of the 50,000 points...so I signed up as well.  After the points got into my SW account, I cancelled the card and they actually refunded my annual fee!  So, hey, truly free flights.

smedleyb

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2012, 05:05:39 PM »


My wife signed up for the Chase SW card and got 3 flights out of the 50,000 points...so I signed up as well.  After the points got into my SW account, I cancelled the card and they actually refunded my annual fee!  So, hey, truly free flights.

Nice Tanny. 

This is also a real good link for people looking to get some free travel from Southwest.  Basically, it shows how applying for the Southwest personal and business card, you can get a free companion pass for almost two years (basically allowing somebody to fly free along with a standard ticket) while also acquiring roughly 110K Southwest points which in itself is worth almost $2K.

http://thepointsguy.com/2011/10/maximizing-the-southwest-companion-pass/

mustachecat

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #30 on: August 09, 2012, 04:37:47 PM »
I'm on the Travelzoo VIP newsletter, and I've snagged some amazing deals off of it. I've gotten tickets from New York to Spain and Peru for $250 and Belize for $90. I see great deals all the time--earlier this week, there was a $332 fare to Israel, and I saw a $300 fare to Istanbul a few months ago. Obviously, this doesn't work if you have a specific location or dates in mind, so flexibility is key.

If you're flying into Europe, it's mindbogglingly cheap to fly around to different countries on low-cost carriers. The last time we were in Spain, we popped down to Morocco for a week on $90 tickets.

StetsTerhune

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2012, 09:41:19 AM »
A few years ago, before I started working, I traveled for over 5 months for about $4,800. This was 3 months in Asia and 2 months in Europe. In Europe I mostly managed to stay with friends, self catered pretty much all my meals, but would have a pint in a pub most days I was in england or germany, or a coffee when I was in france or italy.  SE Asia is so incredibly cheap, if you can find a good priced ticket over there you can have so much fun for so little money that it's not even fair. Unfortunately it's expensive enough to get there (and more expensive now than when I traveled) that it really only works for long term travel. Which I hope to do again someday soon and recommend for anyone who'll listen.

Justaerin

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #32 on: April 16, 2013, 11:26:02 AM »
I wanted to resurrect this post as it has so many amazing tips in it, and related to some of those tips I wanted to ask some of the more seasoned adventurers and travelers how they actually go about some of the things mentioned here.  Specifically: 
- renting apartments abroad, even if for only a couple nights
- eating at places that are local with no english translators or menus (I totally recognize the "learn a few phrases" technique and plan to use it) as immersing myself in the culture and food of an area is a huge part of traveling for me
- using services abroad (like a $50/day personal driver) without being taken advantage of or even robbed (this comes from other travelers' anecdotes about taking up a good offer and being mugged once they're in an unsecure location, or being caught up in some scam involving local law enforcement or organized crime)

I guess some tips on some of the things that seem a little intimidating or daunting to the inexperienced traveler... I enjoy being out of my comfort zone and really immersing myself, but some things seem like the risk warrants just paying up for a more guaranteed level of quality and lower risk.

MtnGal

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #33 on: April 16, 2013, 02:35:24 PM »
- eating at places that are local with no english translators or menus (I totally recognize the "learn a few phrases" technique and plan to use it) as immersing myself in the culture and food of an area is a huge part of traveling for me
I'll reiterate learning how to ask what is good. Otherwise, I've just taken a dictionary along with me. Usually I don't use it, but sometimes it's interesting, like when my friend and I discovered mouse was on the menu. And as long as you are kind, people will generally try to help you. Plus, you might just end up with something you never would have tried otherwise. If you don't like it, you always have that story about how you tried pigeon in Nice and how you were not a fan.


Justaerin

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #34 on: April 16, 2013, 04:24:51 PM »
Good point, it's not the worst thing in the world to get something different.  I've had friends from several diverse cultures and experienced some interesting food... some I would really rather not have again.  But you're probably right, be kind, humble, and genuinely engaged with their culture and food and I'm sure they'll be happy to help.

Lazyretirementgirl

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #35 on: April 16, 2013, 11:54:37 PM »
We have had good luck finding apartments in Europe and the US using VRBO. For guides, tripadvisor is very helpful -- just search your city or area and private guide, and read the reviews carefully. We have found fabulous people. Menus in another language -- I get a phrase book and learn names for some foods and then play it by ear. Also, be shameless about pointing and shrugging in restaurants. It is not as daunting as it may seem when you haven't done it before.

Justaerin

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #36 on: April 16, 2013, 11:57:16 PM »
I won't lie... I'm self conscious about being the ignorant tourist.  I want to be a traveler, not a tourist.  I want to be respectful and polite, and the risk of looking like a disrespectful jackass to a local really holds me back.

expatartist

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Re: Traveling on a Mustachian budget?
« Reply #37 on: April 17, 2013, 12:54:41 AM »
THIS:
Quote
But really, what I do above all is just enjoy the place I am at, and remind myself that other places are really a lot like here, they just happen to be somewhere else.

I'm a recovering travel addict and you, B., have shared some wise words.

Cheap travel advice:
1. I've hosted Couchsurfers in Thailand, and Couchsurfed in Paris & Hong Kong. Hands-down, it was fantastic experience. Be sure to fill out your profile completely and always write a very personalized intro letter to potential hosts.

2. Air BnB.com or Wimdu.com for flats to rent, or other cheaper-but-nicer-than-hotels options. I rent out my Sicilian studio this way, and have been really happy with it.

3. http://www.workaway.info/ gets good reviews, and there are some interesting ways there to work for lodging.

4. Go to the markets rather than restaurants! There you'll find local ingredients & street food dishes, at a fraction of what you pay in cafes.

5. Just GO :) and explore, and create stories worth telling the grand-kids, or the grand-nieces/nephews.